A look back — and ahead — at Castlewood Library in Centennial

Branch with nearly 50-year history is being remodeled again

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Frequent commuters on Arapahoe Road might know it as the building with the cone.

The distinctive silver cone structure at Castlewood Library came out of an effort to add an amenity for the smallest library patrons in 2002.

“We desperately wanted a story time room for our youngest visitors,” said Laurie Christensen, who managed Castlewood during its remodel that year.

But property restrictions around Castlewood's location at Arapahoe Road and South Uinta Street — just west of Interstate 25 — limited its ability to expand.

“Since the portion of the library is below grade, we thought the cone would give us special story time space as well as something architecturally and visually interesting. I remember chatting with several Walnut Hills residents who were delighted with the cone,” said Christensen, who has since retired from the Arapahoe Libraries district. “They felt their neighborhood was hidden, and since the street changes names, it was hard to give visitors directions, but now they had the cone as a landmark.”On the inside, it's a 24-foot-tall story room, according to a news release at the time.

More changes are on the way: Castlewood closed on Sept. 30 for a remodel and will reopen in the spring.

In the meantime, here's a look at the library's history and what's to come.

Hopping around

In 1970, Walnut Hills Library opened in Walnut Hills Elementary School, just down the road from current-day Castlewood Library.

The school district provided 2,100 square feet of space, and the library district provided two librarians, checkout equipment and 4,000 books, according to Arapahoe Libraries.

The library moved several times to accommodate growth. In 1971, it moved to South Yosemite Street, and in late 1974, it moved to the Arapahoe Bank and Trust Building on Arapahoe Road. In 1980, land was donated to the library district, enabling construction of a new facility, which opened in 1982 in its present location at 6739 S. Uinta St. in Centennial, according to the district.

What's in a name?

At that point, the library was renamed Castlewood Public Library, in recognition of the historical significance of “Castlewood” in the area, according to the district.

“Historical research about the community revealed a Castlewood Dam and Lake, built in 1890; Castlewood School built in 1907 at Orchard and Ulster; and Castlewood Grange, chartered in 1907,” district staff said in a statement.

Community fixture

Castlewood Library serves the population of the Denver Tech Center area and is also a hub for students from the nearby Walnut Hills Elementary, according to the district.

“Young families usually come in the morning for the popular story times, small business owners like to utilize (spaces) and a conference room for their meetings and presentations, and in the afternoon, tutors and teens occupy tables around the library,” district staff said. “Due to the library's neighborhood location, it is easy to reach on foot, and for many patrons a visit to the library is part of their daily routine.”

Change with the times

In 2015, a Castlewood meeting room was remodeled and turned into the Makerspace, which houses equipment for engineering activities. It features industrial-quality sewing machines, 3D printers, laser cutters and computers for software development and graphic design, among other tools. 

On the way

This spring, the remodeled Castlewood Library will feature an updated space with natural light, increased accessibility to library materials, an enclosed children's area, a larger makerspace, a lounge area with coffee vending, improved traffic flow in the parking lot and a driver-side book drop.

Other renovations

Other locations in the Arapahoe Libraries district are set for improvements as well, the district said.

Eloise May Library — along Parker Road in unincorporated Arapahoe County — will be closed for improvements Nov. 18-22, and a new Kelver Library will be built in 2020 for the Byers community. 

A new, larger Davies Library opened in the Deer Trail School in September. In east Centennial, Smoky Hill Library courtyard was remodeled in 2016 and turned into a café.

Koelbel Library in west Centennial was remodeled in 2015. Sheridan Library was built in 2014.

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